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September Concerts at UB

Eric Huebner

From the traditional to the unconventional, Roland Martin does triple duty

In the first concert of the new school year, Roland E. Martin will perform on the organ, the piano, and the harpsichord, joined by violist Janz Castelo and tenor Jeffrey Porter in recital on Friday, September 10 at 7:30pm in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on UB’s Amherst campus.

Elizabethan composer John Dowland’s lute song, “Flow My Tears,” provides the inspiration for the core of the concert. Jeffrey Porter will be accompanied by Martin on harpsichord in that work, and also in another song by Dowland, “If My Complaints,” which quotes from “Flow My Tears.” Martin will be the soloist in two other works based on the song “Pavana Lachrimae,” possibly written by Heinrich Scheidemann, on the organ, and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck’s “Paduana Lachrimae” on the harpsichord. Violist Janz Castelo joins Martin on the piano in Britten’s Lachrymae, Op. 48, for viola and piano; the work is a set of variations on Dowland’s “If My Complaints.” The artists will also perform Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Four Hymns for tenor, viola, and piano, which were completed in 1914 but only received their first performance after World War One in 1920.

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s remarkable composition Annum per annum will bring the evening to a close. The work is one of the only four works that Pärt, who is best known for using a minimal, repetitive style to convey a sense of sacred mysticism, has written for organ. Composed in 1980 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the cathedral of Speyer, the work uses a mirror-like symmetry that incorporates the five sections of the Ordinary of the Mass to convey a timeless sense of sacred ritual being performed in the same location, annum per annum—literally, “year by year,”—all in the space of eight minutes.

UB’s Center for the Arts Drama Theatre is the location on Tuesday, September 21 at 7:30pm of a joint concert of the Slee Sinfonietta (firntst half) and the Genkin Philharmonic (second half), presented by the UB Department of Music and the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music.

The Slee Sinfonietta, the professional chamber orchestra in residence at UB, is an ever-changing group of professional musicians who perform the most challenging music in Western New York. For this event Barry Crawford performs Density 21.5, a 1936 work for solo flute by Edgard Varése, one of the seminal composers in the first half of the 20th century. Composed for Georges Barrère for the premiere of his platinum flute, the title refers to the density of platinum being close to 21.5 grams per cubic centimeter.

Another work from 1936, the Variations for piano, op. 27, by Anton von Webern, youngest member of the second Viennese school, will be performed by Eric Huebner. When Stephen Manes retired from UB a few years ago, he left a large gap in the piano faculty at UB. Since then, the late James Avery gave some memorable performances as a visiting professor that helped fill that void, and Alison d’Amato has proved to be a valuable addition to the music department faculty. Eric Huebner, who came onboard just last year, has established his credentials in short order; Huebner’s dynamic, but barely promoted, two part performance last spring of Olivier Messiaen’s monumental 1944 work, Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus, was especially noteworthy. Huebner, who is obviously not afraid of a challenge, will tackle Igor Stravinsky’s extremely challenging Trois mouvements de Petroushka, composed for the composer’s friend Arthur Rubinstein, while Jon Nelson and Tim Clarke, trumpets, will perform another Stravinsky work, the 1964 Fanfare for a New Theatre. The Slee Sinfonietta then takes the stage in full force under conductor James Baker, for a performance of trombonist Trevor Björklund’s Deus ex Machina, a piece that combines elements of more popular-seeming music with a contemporary, microtonal harmonic language.

Trumpet player Jon Nelson organized the Genkin Philharmonic when he was hired by UB with the instructions to “do something” with a student group—he wanted to do something different from what the jazz and classical areas of the school were already doing. Nelson has always been willing to push the boundaries, notably as a longtime member of the avant-garde Meridian Arts Ensemble. When the Genkin made its first big debut at an international trumpet conference, about half of the 700 members in the audience walked out during the first piece. “I knew that we were onto something,” Nelson observed, and successful performances in Buffalo, New York City, and Mexico City have followed. The playlist for this concert is dominated by the unclassifiable music of Frank Zappa, who Nelson got to know when Zappa gave a rare approval to the Meridian Arts Ensemble’s arrangements of his works. It should be a wild ride, with arrangements of numbers such as “Harry You’re a Beast,” “Igor’s Boogie,” and “Zomby Woof.”

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